Taco Salad is one of my favorite easy breezy meals for summer. All the benefits of tacos, without any of the drawbacks. It tastes like tacos, but you can make it several hours or even a day ahead, with no last-minute frying of tortillas and fussing with filling individual tacos. On those too-hot-to-cook days, you can fry up the ground beef in the cool morning hours and assemble the salad at your leisure, pop it in the fridge and forget it.
This was made with almost all organic ingredients. Do you feel it's important to buy organic food? Another question, since summer is on its way: What is your favorite busy-day, too-hot-to-cook dinner?
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound extra lean ground beef (I use organic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup chunky salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons chunky salsa
3 romaine hearts, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped and drained
1 6-ounce can sliced ripe olives
3 ripe medium avocados, coarsely chopped
Juice of half a lemon or lime
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar and/or Jack cheese
White corn tortilla chips, reserved for last minute
1 In a medium skillet, heat oil and add the ground beef. (If you're using a fattier ground beef than I do, you won't need the oil and you will need to drain the fat off after cooking.) Cook, breaking it up, until very well browned. Stir in the chunky salsa and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill until ready to assemble salad.
2 Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill until ready to assemble salad.
3 In a large bowl, like this very inexpensive straight-sided 5-quart glass salad bowl, layer ingredients. If you don't care about presentation, you can use just any large bowl. But I've found that dinner guests enjoy looking at the layers before the salad is tossed, so I use a clear glass bowl that has straight sides and is about 9 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep. Of course, when I fill it to the brim there is no room in that bowl for tossing, so after everyone admires it I dump the salad into an even larger bowl for tossing.
4 It doesn't really matter in what order you layer the ingredients, but I like to put the romaine on the bottom and separate it with a layer of sour cream from ingredients I want to salt; that way the lettuce will stay crisp until serving time. Throw a handful of cilantro over every layer and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the bean, cucumber, tomato and avocado layers.
5 Gently toss the chopped avocado with the lemon or lime juice. Make it the last vegetable layer. Spread the dressing evenly over the avocado layer. Top with the shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate until serving time (anywhere from 2 to 24 hours). Bring it out for "presentation," then dump it into a very large bowl, throw on as many handfuls of white corn tortilla chips as you see fit (breaking them up slightly), toss and serve.